Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 16

Photo by Marie Berberea, Cannoneer staff Soldiers in the Master Fitness Trainer Course step across Prichard Field at Fort Sill, Okla. as part of a warm-up before physical readiness training, 5 June 2013. Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine and trainers from the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School combined efforts to produce the first-generation PRT in the early 2000s. The new PRT was intended as an update to a traditional methodology of calisthenics, push-up and sit-up variations, and long-distance running in formation. The genesis of PRT “involved six different types of exercises: calisthenics, dumbbell drills, movement drills, interval training, long-distance running, and flexibility training.”3 In October 2012, new doctrinal guidance was published in FM 7-22. The FM is like a 400-page, college-level textbook. The content is organized by PRT philosophy, strategy, and activities. The manual improves on outdated doctrine by including designs meant to decrease injuries resulting from sudden increases in running mileage; phased training (systematic planning of PRT) and specified rest and recovery points; a greater range of fitness needs applicable to combat, such as mobility, flexibility, and agility; and some limited accommodations for 14 updated training guidelines from organizations such as the American College of Sports Medicine. Unfortunately, the complexity and breadth of its approach can be overwhelming. I have heard from many soldiers who have found FM 7-22 difficult to understand, including sergeants and staff sergeants responsible for leading and guiding PRT. It attempts to engage audiences—from brigade command-level leadership, to rifle team leaders and combat arms units, to support units—but those audiences seem to be struggling with it. Moreover, the FM does not provide metrics, definitions, or measurable standards (with the exception of some general movement execution standards). This leaves a dizzying amount of information for users to define for themselves. The FM attempts to match PRT phases (initial conditioning phase, toughening phase, and sustaining phase) to the Army force generation (ARFORGEN) force pools (rotational phases known as RESET, train/ ready, and available).4 However, the ARFORGEN September-October 2014  MILITARY REVIEW